Recently Dean of Admissions Andrew Flagel invited me to join him and a group of students for lunch over at Boxwoods in the Mason Inn. I was especially intrigued by his invitation because he mentioned that he had specifically invited students who are active on Twitter, the social media application.
In the recent issue of the Mason Spirit (currently at the printer), we followed six students on Twitter to find out more about what life on campus is really like. Two of the students at the lunch, Alex Romano (@alexromano) and Hayley Roder (@dcmetrogirl), are featured in our issue.
Two of the other students, Yasmin Tadjdeh (@yasmintadjdeh) and Nitesh Arora (@nitesh_arora), are friends on Twitter, or “followers” as Twitter calls them. I met Yasmin online when she was taking amazing photos during the January 26, 2011, snowstorm and posting them as things were unfolding. She works for the online campus news organization Connect2Mason. I can’t remember how I came to meet Nitesh.
One of the things that made Dean Flagel interested in organizing this meeting was that snowstorm. He recounts a story that took place during that storm in which he was already at home and his wife, Jennifer Flagel, associate vice president of Development Services at Mason, was in a traffic jam on Patriot Circle and in danger of running out of gas. He tweeted about being worried about his wife stuck on campus. Within minutes, Alex and Nitesh answered him on Twitter, offering to go find Mrs. Flagel and help her get gas.
Twitter was incredibly useful during that snowstorm (and Mrs. Flagel made it home OK.). Not only could you tell what was happening moment by moment, but as information changed, the campus media was quick to report it and fellow students were just as quick to “retweet” and pass the information along.
As we watched the six students on Twitter for a week in order to compose The “Day” in the Life article for the spring issue, we did learn some things about the campus, student services, and what frustrates students. Parking and construction are still high among their aggravators. But the application can also help you spot obstacles and trends.
Dean Flagel is a prolific tweeter and blogger so he is easy to find online, but I would encourage other administrators to log on and take a peek every now and again at the hashtags #gmu and #mason to see what’s happening real time on campus. In the meantime I encourage you to take an look at A Week in the Life of a Patriot and see what Mason students are up to.